In the latest of our Q&As with the innovators selected for Energy Australia’s inaugural Startupbootcamp program, we talk to Nishant Sahai, chief commercial officer for 1Ansah. Sahai says his company’s software has the potential to comprehensively address the maintenance issues that continue to dog the electricity-generation sector, resulting in efficiencies for the industry and more reliable supply for consumers.
You’ve positioned your software as ‘the Siri of maintenance’ for the power-generation sector. How exactly does it help?
I’ll use an analogy if I may. To give companies a better understanding of what we do, we ask them: ‘When was the last time your flight was delayed due to unforeseen technical difficulties? It’s stressful for you, right? Well, spare a thought for the maintenance staff out on the tarmac who have a matter of minutes to figure out where the problem lies and make the fix. Any delay can cost their bosses time and money. The pressure is on.’
This same principle applies to power-generation companies, which rely on operating at full capacity in order to make profit. If part of the company’s network goes down, even for a matter of minutes, less electricity can be sold. Our software helps the company’s technicians – the equivalent of those guys out on the tarmac – fix the problem at the point of fault, minimising downtime and maximising output. We’ve developed a tool that incorporates data from all the assets that are commonly used by power-generation companies and that can problem-solve.
Energy companies have already begun to play around with your platform. What’s an example of how the software has helped a company?
For instance, we’ve done a Proof of Value with a company at one of its coal-fired power plants. The company was having issues with its chemical dousing pump, and it had discovered that the solution it was using was a Band-Aid fix – the problem kept re-occurring. Initially, the company had consulted books and manuals to figure out where the issue was and to make the fix, but with our platform it had all the relevant information digitised and in the hands of its technicians. Those technicians were able to come up with a superior fix.
What can you tell us about your platform’s learning capabilities?
The platform uses machine learning and artificial intelligence. Every time you input data, it learns. That means issues can potentially be solved more quickly if they reoccur. We think of our product as a learning hub: it gathers knowledge both from manuals and from interactions with people, and increases its capabilities in the process. As companies continue to use the platform, their efficiency will increase, making them more profitable.
How would you characterise the Australian energy start-up space at the moment?
While there are definitely creative people in the space, it is a bit sleepy. Australia has other areas, such as the fin-tech start-up sector, which are a lot more advanced. But that means there are currently great opportunities in our sector for people who are creative and ambitious – such as the other people in the Startupbootcamp. We have a real opportunity to disrupt.